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29th November, 2019

Year 1 Geog/Hist Specialists Go Out and About!

Year 1 Primary BEd students whose Area of Specialism is WAU Geography/History have been spending some time out and about looking at outdoor learning activities.

The focus of their specialism module is outdoor learning/ learning outside the classroom (LOtC); rather than do all of this inside a Central Building classroom, it was important to see and do some of this outside!

As well as taking part in activities on our wonderful College campus with P5 pupils from Stranmillis Primary School involving an ‘Autumn Walk’ and then a ‘Winter Walk’ and three visits to the school for classroom follow-up work (previously reported in Web News), the students have had two very different trips out to see primary school outdoor learning in action.

Clandeboye Estate in Bangor is the base for the HQ of the Northern Ireland Forest School Association (NIFSA), and the students and lecturer Dr Richard Greenwood were invited to take part in a Forest School activity morning with P1 and P2 pupils from Silverstream Primary School in Carrickfergus, their classroom assistants and their teachers, both former Stran students, Claire Cranston and Jancis Logue.

Ably led by Forest School leader Richard McMeekin and his colleagues, the pupils enthusiastically took part in pretending to be birds finding ‘worms’ (small lengths of different colours of wool) to learn about good colours for camouflage; they then worked in groups to make little animal shelters from the natural materials in Clandeboye’s wonderful Forest School area. Finally, after some free play time in the forest, marshmallows were toasted (some got rather burnt!) over a campfire and sandwiched between chocolate digestives to make ‘smores’. Thanks to Richard M and Brian Poots from NIFSA at Clandeyoye, and also thanks to Silverstream PS staff and pupils for allowing us to join in their fun and see the great learning which was going on!

In the same week the Year 1 students went to Lough View Integrated PS in the Castlereagh Hills to see the wonderful outdoor learning work that goes on there. We were warmly welcomed by principal Mr Sean Spillane and shown round the various outdoor learning areas and activities by teachers Sara Cartwright and Claire Beckett and pupils Isla and Killian. The teachers’ enthusiasm for all things outdoor learning shone through as they walked us round play areas with willow shelters, a pond, allotments, a nature trail and a poly-tunnel where lots of plants are grown and sold, all with spectacular views over Belfast, even on a murky November afternoon! Killian and Isla spoke enthusiastically and knowledgeably about all of these outdoor activities, the things that can be done there and the plants and animals that inhabit them. The students were greatly impressed! We also got to listen in on a ‘Nature Detectives’ activity, led by Mr Stevenson, a teacher who recently retired but comes back in to lead this club! The wonderful outdoor learning provision at Lough View is largely down to his hard work and leadership over many years.

The students laughed and agreed heartily when it was suggested that they would all love to do their School Based Work at Lough View!!

To see some photos of Lough View’s outdoor learning areas, go to:

https://www.loughviewintegrated.co.uk/school-info/curriculum/

Top: Forest School fun; Bottom: Lough View IPS teachers Sara Cartwright and Claire Beckett with P6 pupils Isla and Killian.
Top: Year 1 Geog/Hist students exploring the campus; bottom: with Silverstream PS P1 and 2 pupils doing ‘Forest School’ on Clandeboye Estate.

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